Articles Posted in Federal Crimes

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Could a law designed to prevent computer fraud unintentionally make criminals out of millions of Americans who use services such as Netflix and Amazon? That is precisely what one federal judge sees as the potential outcome of a recent ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Criminalizing All Sorts of Innocuous Conduct”

The case, United States v. Nosal, concerned a violation of the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is a federal law that makes it a crime to engage in the unauthorized use of a computer or network. The law has been amended numerous times since its enactment, and in its present form, it is essentially an anti-hacking law.Computer_Internet_Crime-300x225.jpg

David Nosal’s case, however, was a little different than a typical hacking case. Nosal left his position at his company after he was denied a promotion. He decided to build a company to compete against his former employer. He and his associates began accessing the company’s databases by using his former assistant’s password.

Nosal was charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets, and three counts of computer fraud under the CFAA. He received a prison sentence, probation, and was ordered to pay $900,000 in restitution and fines.

Is It a Crime to Share Your Netflix Password?

For dissenting justice Stephen Reinhardt, the phrase “without authorization” is the one that is most troubling about the upholding of Nosal’s conviction. He notes that the sharing of a password is something that millions of Americans do each day.

“People frequently share their passwords, notwithstanding the fact that websites and employers have policies prohibiting it. In my view, the CFAA does not make the millions of people who engage in this ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct into unwitting federal criminals,” he wrote in his dissenting opinion.

Reinhardt’s worries are not baseless. People who have violated the “Terms of Service” that users are required to agree to before they can use many computer-based services have been prosecuted in the past. Whenever Netflix updates its Terms of Service, a user of its streaming service will be greeted upon logging in with a lengthy legal notice on-screen that explains the rules for how the service can be used. A subscriber must accept these terms by clicking the on-screen button before they can access the service. Even more problematic is that many people do not bother to read those terms before agreeing to them. Continue reading →

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Laser pointers are useful tools for professors in the classroom and fun for people to play with outdoors. We may think of them as harmless in everyday life, but if they are used irresponsibly, they have the potential to cause serious damage. In a recent federal court case, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter.1

In 2012, Sergio Patrick Rodriguez was accused of pointing a high-powered green laser 13 times more powerful than a conventional laser pointer at a Fresno Police Department helicopter that was responding to a call to a children’s hospital.2 Rodriguez was charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft and attempting to interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft, both felony crimes.3juevnile%20law.jpg

In March 2014, Rodriguez was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, among the longest sentences for such a crime.4 A federal conviction for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft usually results in a maximum five-year sentence. However, the sentence was increased due to Rodriguez’s significant criminal record including numerous probation violations and gang affiliations.5

Pointing a laser at an aircraft can blind pilots and lead to crashes. It is important to be aware of proper procedure for handling things as simple as a laser pointer. If you or a loved one is facing a charge of pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft, it is important to have a Wallin & Klarich attorney who will fight for you.

Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft – United States Code 18 Section 39(a)

You can be charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft at a state or federal level. The serious nature of Rodriguez’s arrest and past criminal record led to his being charged at the federal level.

Under U.S. Code 18 Section 39(a), it is unlawful to knowingly aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft. A conviction for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Recently, a panel of three judges with jurisdiction over the California state prison population announced that the state must take immediate steps to release approximately 10,000 prison inmates.

The three-judge panel ordered the state to release inmates in order to comply with the panel’s 2009 order that the prison population be reduced to 137.5% of its original capacity. In 2009, the panel ruled that the health care system in California prisons had deteriorated due to the issue of overcrowding and violated prisoners’ right to equal protection.


Currently, there are approximately 119,000 prisoners at 149.8% capacity. Releasing nearly 10,000 inmates would bring the prison capacity down to 137.5% in accordance with the panel’s 2009 order.

The panel’s recent decision has not been met with unanimous support.

Many fear that the release of 10,000 prisoners may compromise public safety. However, Michael Bien, lead counsel for the inmates, stated that “this administration knows how to identify prisoners that can be safely released.”

“The state saves money, prisons identify people who are ready to re-enter society, and the inmates have the opportunity to become good, productive citizens,” added Bien.

The panel of judges reiterated that no further delays will be permitted and ordered the waiver of any state law or administrative procedure that would postpone release of the prisoners. The panel also ordered the state to produce a bi-monthly report on its progress in releasing the inmates.

The state had previously indicated that it would take various steps to cut the prison population, but the panel claimed that it had not seen sufficient evidence to believe that the state was making a good-faith effort to do so. In fact, counsel for the inmates argued that the state’s non-cooperation with the panel’s 2009 order was blatant contempt of court. The panel found this accusation to have “considerable merit.”

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The procedures for the two systems also differ significantly. If you have been charged with a federal crime, you need to contact an attorney who is familiar and experienced with federal law.

An attorney who is familiar with only state law will not be able to provide you with the best possible defense. A criminal attorney who is highly skilled and knowledgeable about federal law will be able to effectively represent your interests.

Federal%20Crimes%20Defense%20Attorney%20888-280-6839.jpgFor over thirty years, Wallin & Klarich has successfully represented clients accused of committing federal crimes. We are experienced and familiar with the criminal justice system and all of its procedures.

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The Transportation Security Agency has had more than its fair share of black eyes in the past few years. Now, two of their current employees and two former employees are in need of a Los Angeles federal crimes attorney after being arrested on federal drug crimes.

In a shocking story, the TSA agents reportedly allowed drug smugglers to pass through Los Angeles International Airport x-ray machines with large quantities of cocaine and other drugs in exchange for money.

The federal indictment outlines 5 separate incidents where the agents accepted as much as $2,400 per incident to allow drug smugglers free reign to pass through security checkpoints. The group was allegedly masterminded by a disgruntled former TSA employee who had been fired in 2010.

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International bikini model, Simone Farrow, will be in need of a good drug crimes lawyer and most likely a top notch federal crimes lawyer. The supermodel was arrested in 2009 and charged with being the mastermind of an international methamphetamines distribution ring. The supermodel posted bail then skipped the country, but was found in Australia and will be extradited back to the United States.

Farrow made a name for herself as the face of Ed Hardy bikinis. At one point she was named one of the sexiest women in the world. Today, federal investigators say that she used 19 different aliases to run a drug trafficking operation out of her Hollywood apartment.

DEA investigators say that Farrow used FedEx and the US Postal Service to ship high grade crystal meth hidden in bath salts. She was apparently the ringleader in an operation that included 7 other people. One the individuals implicated in the case committed suicide after being contacted by the authorities.

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If you are a college basketball fan, March is the greatest month of the year. But with March Madness upon the nation, at least one player may be in need of a federal crimes attorney due to a developing scandal involving point shaving at Auburn University.

The play involved is Auburn point guard Verez Ward. He is currently under investigation for shaving points in at least two games this season. For those not familiar with the term point shaving, it essentially means that Ward is accused of intentionally missing shots and trying to manipulate the final score in order to affect the final score, and help co-conspirators win money on sports gambling.

Most sports books have what is called a point spread. It is the amount of points one team is favored to win by over another team. People bet on if the favored team will win by more or less than the point spread. When one missed free throw could be the difference between winning or losing a bet, having a player in the actual game under a gambler’s control is a huge advantage and also a federal crime.

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The US Supreme Court is deciding that very issue. The case stems from a Florida case, where a police dog in the front yard of a house smelled marijuana, thus prompting police to enter the house and search the premises. Police found marijuana inside the residence and made an arrest.

After being found guilty of the related charges, the defendant appealed and the Florida Supreme Court overturned the ruling, saying that the search was a violation of the defendants 4th amendment rights.

The police and the DA say that this is legitimate “police investigative work”. However, defense lawyers and citizens are strongly protesting this police conduct.

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While most people know that smuggling immigrants into the United States is a federal crime, most people don’t know that employing an illegal immigrant is also a federal crime. Knowing the laws surrounding these crimes is imperative if you want to avoid lengthy jail sentences or heavy fines.

Federal law criminalizes the full spectrum of activities that comprise:

• Smuggling • Inducing an alien to enter • Bringing an alien to the U.S.

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Federal laws regarding bribes are broadly construed in order to effectuate the legislative purpose of deterring corruption. It is a crime to corruptly give, offer or promise anything of value to any public official with intent:

• To influence any official act • To influence such public official to commit any fraud on the U.S.

• To induce such public official to do or omit to do any act in violation of the lawful duty of such official

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.